October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's a time when we set aside our own issues and work together to foster the conversation around one of the deadliest types of cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime—a heartbreaking figure that NERVO is all too familiar with. Back in March 2014, the mother of the barnstorming sister DJ duo was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. Considering the fact that their family did not have a history of the disease, the diagnosis was a metaphorical punch in the gut.
Olivia and Miriam Nervo's mom's cancer was detected through a routine mammogram, a fortuitous happenstance that underscores the importance of early detection screenings, one of the cornerstones of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. At the time, they said the tumor was the size of a tennis ball and that it had spread to their mother's lymph nodes. After she had a double mastectomy (the surgical removal of both breasts), her life—as well as the lives of her daughters—changed forever.
EDM.com had the distinct pleasure of chatting with the electronic music superstars about their experiences with breast cancer and the acute effects it has on those who bravely persevere the struggles—effects both unseen and visible to the naked eye.
EDM.com: What are some popular misconceptions about breast cancer that you feel strongly about?
NERVO: That breast cancer is random. It really surprised us when our mother's oncologist told us that she most likely got breast cancer because she was heavy for many years. We didn't want to believe that being overweight was a factor but when we looked at the evidence, people who are overweight are much more likely to develop breast cancer. It's definitely an incentive to eat clean and try to stay lean.
Both [our] parents follow a keto diet now and have managed to keep their weight down, which is the silver lining in my mother's diagnosis. She is five years in remission, by the way!
E: If you could give advice to someone who is supporting a loved one going through a similar experience to what you went through as daughters of a survivor, what would you tell them?
N: One day at a time. There is nothing more painful than feeling helpless while watching someone you love go through cancer treatment. It truly is very scary contemplating their mortality. Today we focus on the face that she is here and healthy and how lucky we are that she made it. Thank God for modern medicine.
E: One aspect of breast cancer that not many people are able to comprehend are the unseen effects of it—especially for the children of a survivor. Since it's often a genetic thing, have you ever found yourself stressed or worried?
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N: Our mother's diagnosis definitely gave us the kick up the b*** that we needed to stay on top of our check-ups.
E: Did it affect your decision to have children, knowing you might pass on that gene? Also, how has it affected your experiences as mothers?
N: Considering one's own mortality has definitely had an effect on our experience as women and mothers. We want to live each day to the fullest. Surround yourself with good people. Enjoy the small things. Love hard.
E: The way people talk about breast cancer is, in some ways, minimizing to women. Women are considered so strong for fighting cancer, but they are strong all the time. Why is it that cancer gets to be the thing that legitimizes that strength?
N: I think women have to deal with so much in all avenues of life, which so often get overlooked. Women are mighty! Unfortunately, more often than not we are at a disadvantage with earning power and certainly when it comes to starting a family. Us women more often than not have to "take the hit" in other aspects of our lives to simply mother. Of course it is a privilege, but it is also a strain. We have witnessed this firsthand seeing the strength Liv has had to find being a single mother and that is an entire other level of mighty.
As far as cancer's role in gender discrimination, men often suffer from prostate cancer; perhaps cancer doesn't discriminate after all. Us humans are resilient and we are proud to be strong women.
E: For many women, losing their hair (along with the other major side effects of cancer treatment) tie into losing a sense of femininity. As two champions of womanhood, do you have any advice to those who are facing this issue?
N: We found it inspiring seeing our mother remove her wig and rock her bald head. We can imagine for many women that losing hair (and nails) is another horrible obstacle to overcome, but all in all it should be looked upon as another battle won. Another struggle overcome.
E: What message would you like to send to women in the EDM community who are currently going through their own battle with breast cancer?
N: Our thoughts and prayers are with them. May they have a speedy recovery and come out the other end with a new found appreciation of all things great. Fight for that silver lining!